What Does It Mean When Your Car Overheats?

Vehicle Overheat

When your vehicle overheats, it shuts your plans down for the near future. You know the warning signs. The dashboard lights up like a Christmas Tree. You smell funny odors like burning rubber, scorched oil or boiling water.

At one time, expecting your car to overheat was a common event. No one forgot extra water on a Sunday drive, as pouring it over the radiator helped the engine cool. If you planned a trip up into the mountains, everyone factored in extra time for the drive because engines overheated on challenging hills.

Many decades later, drivers deal with an overheating car. If those warning lights go off, do not waste time trying to figure out what to do. No matter how inconvenient, pull over immediately. Every second your engine runs in an overheated condition potentially adds hundreds of dollars to a car repair bill.

If you wonder what it means when your engine overheats, these ideas might help.

You Have A Damaged or Clogged Radiator

Think of your radiator as a portal to your car's respiratory system. Usually, your radiator has a lot of cooling fins that look like stacks of thin aluminum. When your radiator functions correctly, air flows between those strips to cool your engine. Over time, dings and other things crush those strips so airflow cannot reach your engine.

Dirt and debris easily clog radiator fins on a vehicle with high mileage. Contaminated coolant clogs your radiator, potentially damaging it to a critical point. If you notice your radiator has collected dirt and debris, try flushing the radiator coolant. Your mechanic drains the old coolant from your radiator. Then, he cleans it by running flush fluid through the radiator before adding new coolant.

Check your owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommended mileage for a radiator flush. Usually, it is somewhere around every 40,000 miles.

Blown Head Gasket

If you notice coolant leaking in your driveway or garage, get your vehicle checked out right away. If your car has low coolant, it not only prevents proper cooling but affects the head gasket. When your coolant leaks out, air gets pulled in. Your engine's temperature quickly overheats to critical levels.

Your head gasket might cause overheating or result from overheating problems. Either way, it signals major headaches when the head gasket blows.

Malfunctioning or Broken Thermostat

Vehicle Overheating

Your car's thermostat regulates how much coolant flows through the engine. If your thermostat breaks or works incorrectly, then it sends the wrong amount of coolant to the engine. This quickly becomes a problem that causes your engine to overheat.

If your car only overheats on the highway, replacing your thermostat may solve the problem. Your engine works harder at highway speeds, so a closed thermostat would not allow enough coolant through the engine to keep it cool.

The Cooling Fan Is Stuck or Broke

If your car heats up when you are stuck in traffic, then your cooling fan likely has a problem. Normally, your vehicle moves fast enough to cool the engine. At a long red light or a traffic jam, a broken cooling fan causes the temperature gauge to soar.

Nearly all cooling fans run off electric motors. So, any motor-related mechanical issues could cause your cooling fan to slow or fail.

Loose or Disconnected Hoses

Hoses carry air, fluids and other matter to your car's operating systems. Easy to overlook, they come loose or crack and break without making a sound. You might discover a broken hose when your car overheats.

Routine maintenance goes a long way in preventing this type of problem. Your mechanic routinely checks all connections and hoses for problems. If you feel your car runs hotter than normal, ask your mechanic to take a look. You could prevent an expensive problem this way.

Get More Information on This Topic

If you want a few tips to keep your car running cool, contact or visit Peoria Nissan. Our warm and friendly staff look forward to answering your questions and keeping you safe on the road.

Categories: Used Inventory, Service, Safety

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